Instead of writing a lengthy blog post today, I’d like to recommend that you read “Hunting Dinosaurs in Central Africa,” an excellent article in Contingent Magazine by Edward Guimont discussing the close connection between pseudohistory, cryptozoology, and colonialism in Central Africa from early colonial era down to the present. Guimont discusses how Europeans attempted to assert control over Africa by rewriting its history through a Biblical lens but also through appropriating control over its animals. As Guimont explains, such seemingly disparate phenomena as hunting for King Solomon’s mines, looking for dinosaurs in the Congo, and displaying African wildlife in European capitals were actually part of a single colonial enterprise to delegitimize African cultures and knowledge and assert European dominance. To this end, the entire language of “discovery” and “exploration” inherently referred to European penetration of lands viewed as inherently wild and primitive, whose inferior peoples were ignorant and whose presence and knowledge were unacknowledged and unvalued.
One of the most interesting parts of Guimont’s article is his thematic connection between the Eurocentric search for living dinosaurs in Africa and David Icke’s Reptilians. Guimont notes that the hunt for African dinosaurs can’t be severed from pan-Babylonist musings about whether the people of Babylon depicted a brontosaurus from the Congo on the Ishtar Gate in the form of a sirrush, or dragon, and the claim that these dinosaur-dragons are also the dragon of the Book of Daniel, thus making the Congolese “dinosaur” evidence of Biblical truth. In the twentieth century, some speculated that the Babylonians had traveled to Africa and saw dinosaurs, helping to fuel creationist beliefs and hyperdiffusionism in one stroke.
The persistent Euro-American belief in the existence of dinosaurs in Africa–often without evidence–always served a colonial purpose. These atavistic monsters symbolize the continent and its people in the minds of those in Europe and the United States who oppose full independence of African nations and equality for their citizens. But more recently, another reptilian creature inhabits the conspiratorial right’s menagerie, combining the revisionist history of Ley’s sirrush link to Central Africa, racist stereotypes, and the thinly-veiled colonialist concept of ancient aliens, to create a reptilian being capable of ruling Europe and the United States, if only covertly: Lizard People.
The connection isn’t just in the promotion of reptiles (as dinosaurs were wrongly thought to be in the past), but in the fact that the Lizard People of David Icke are mixed up with Icke’s use of Zecharia Sitchin’s ancient astronaut claims, themselves included arguments that King Solomon’s mines, which Sitchin placed in Africa, were ancient alien gold-hunting operations. To Guimont’s analysis I might add this: The Reptilians take their inspiration from the Brotherhood of the Serpent (or the Brotherhood of the Snake), popularized by Theosophy and its offshoots (from Christian fantasies about global Devil-worshiping serpent cults), which are closely tied to colonialist and imperialist ideas. These serpents were the serpent of wisdom of pagan lore, an inversion of the Biblical Serpent of Eden, and they add an extra layer of complication to the hunt for dinosaurs in the twentieth century. They weren’t just atavistic monster but also a hidden source of forgotten knowledge, embodying the tension in Euro-American colonialism between seeing indigenous people as racially inferior but also as preserving pure ancient wisdom in their primitive simplicity.
Anyway, be sure to read Guimont’s piece. It’s a great read.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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